After being witness to some obscure calls by referees over the last few weeks, I felt it was time to start a new feature here at SCU to give our readers an opportunity to voice their opinion on officiating. Should there be a questionable call (or calls) against the Steelers, I will post clips here from the game in order to gauge the public perspective on what was (or wasn't) penalized.
My goal here is not to whine about calls. Obviously, we can't change them long after the fact! Instead, I'd like to open a discussion where fans can debate on and better educate themselves about the rules.
First, let's take a look at the play in real time.
There's a lot at play here. First, did Brown complete a catch?
Most of us are familiar with the requirements for a catch, but here's a quick review in layman's terms: both feet down, inbounds, with clear control of the ball. Of course, there's the "football move" portion that's always thrown around in conversation and is vague in nature. The only thing we can tell you for certain is that once the process of a catch is completed, the player (in this case AB) becomes a "runner", according to the NFL rule book:
A player has the ball long enough to clearly become a runner when, after his second foot is on the ground, he is capable of avoiding or warding off impending contact of an opponent, tucking the ball away, turning up field, or taking additional steps.
Let's watch the play in slow motion and you make the determination:
The final ruling on the field was an interception. I know that part frustrated me at first, and confused fans. I feel the officiating crew didn't do a good enough job explaining it for TV (obviously John Harbaugh understood what was going on). How could this be an interception?
The key point here is that the ball never touches the ground. In reviewing the play, if Brown doesn't complete the process of a catch, the ball is still live since it did not touch the ground.
But if the ball touches the ground, would it have been ruled an incomplete catch? CBS analyst Dan Fouts also questioned why a touchdown wasn't ruled, but he simply could not hear the referee's whistle over the crowd noise from the loose ball.
Here we see the official at the top of the screen immediately ruling Antonio down by contact. He is operating under the premise of a complete catch, with a knee down on the field.
Here is a clearer photo of the referee pointing he is down and blowing the whistle. (We cannot see any further signal by the officiating team as the camera pans to the right to follow Ravens safety Eric Weddle.)
So now my question to Steelers Nation is as follows: is it a catch or an interception?
We'd like to see your comments (and of course, justification) for your decision below! We will add our comments over the next few days too.